The boss of BMW’s M division says he believes there is serious potential in high-performance versions of the company’s new three-cylinder engine for its future compact sports cars.
Speaking with US publication Car and Driver, BMW M president Friedrich Nitschke described the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine destined for the BMW 1 Series and third-generation Mini Cooper, among others, as an “attractive engine” to his division.
“It is possible to reach around 185-200hp (138-149kW) per litre in a forced-induction three-cylinder and we have 1.5 litres of displacement,” Nitschke explained.
“Such an engine – which, by the way, sounds very similar to a six-cylinder engine – would have over 310hp (231kW). And we are not even at the limit there.
“Generally speaking, I could imagine such an engine.”
The highly impressive anticipated figures would put the three-cylinder engine on par with the 235kW 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six of the BMW M135i hot-hatch (above), despite the new engine being half its size and having half as many cylinders.
The engine would be an obvious fit for a high-performance 1 Series model, and potentially sporty variants of the 3 Series and the upcoming city crossover based on the BMW Concept Active Tourer from last year’s Paris motor show.
“We discuss the topic with our customers in a regular fashion, and it emerges that they are very happy with rear-wheel drive,” he said.
“An all-wheel-drive system means 150-200 pounds (68-91kg) more weight, and a clear loss of precision in steering. Ultimately, the competition between the brands would be narrowed to straight-line performance.
“And, by the way, we do not believe that this would be a sustainable approach.”